Recovery Room gets new owner

New London — Joe and Angela San Juan of Waterford have bought the Recovery Room restaurant on Ocean Avenue from Jack Cochran, the former New London High School football coach who ran it for two and a half years.

Cochran, an ever-present fixture at the restaurant since he bought it in September 2015, made the announcement on Facebook on Wednesday, after the deal closed Tuesday. Angela San Juan, who will run the restaurant day to day, used to manage The Shack restaurant and has been a Recovery Room server for the past two years.

Recovery Room is noted for its gourmet pizzas and fresh salads.

"We had a great run, and were able to build it to a high point," Cochran said in a phone interview. "My goals were set high, and we reached them. ... It was just time."

Cochran said he had no specific plans for the future, except to try to catch up on some sleep and enjoy himself for a few weeks before plotting a new chapter in life. He said he was not planning anything new in the restaurant business.

Angela San Juan, whose husband is a sergeant in the East Lyme Police Department, said she had no immediate plans to change anything at the popular eatery across from Lawrence + Memorial Hospital. The restaurant dates back to the early 1970s, when original owners Richard and Sheila Cash built its reputation, and had then been run successfully for another dozen years by Jack Cultrera before Cochran came aboard.

Cochran said he didn't mess very much with the formula, except to increase portion sizes and add a hot oil pizza as well as a scallop entree to the menu. He also decided to institute delivery service, which has been popular among millennials.

San Juan said she was feeling good about the restaurant's transition, if a bit overwhelmed. The idea to buy the restaurant started out as a joke between her and Cochran, San Juan said, but he eventually called her to see if she was serious.

"Customer service is my No. 1 priority, as well as keeping the food fabulous," she said. "It's a well-oiled machine."

Of her staff of about 40, San Juan said she doesn't expect anyone to leave.

"I have a great staff here, everyone from front to back to the bar," she said.

With 30-plus years in the restaurant business, San Juan said she is feeling pretty confident about taking over, and she added that Cochran has been training her on some of the details she was not familiar with and he has promised to be only a phone call away if she has further questions. She added that her husband has taken some time to help with the transition.

"It just felt like it was meant to be," she said.


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